April 2016, News & Features

Season never ends for 3-sport athlete

Akera McPhaul has provided more than her share of athletic talent to Saint Augustine’s University. The sophomore from Greensboro has played three different sports this year. In the fall, she was an outside hitter for the volleyball team; during the winter she was a guard for the basketball team; and this spring she is a pitcher and utility player for the Lady Falcons softball team.

It is safe to say that the sports medicine major has not had much down time this year. But McPhaul is used to the hectic pace. “I have played all three sports all of my life,” she said. “Volleyball was a sport I picked up for fun in middle school. Softball became a passion for me in high school. I always knew I wanted to play softball in college and getting that opportunity was a blessing.”

Despite her participation in sports, McPhaul still has time for other pursuits. “Academics always comes first and social life second,” she said. “I tend to do all [my] studying and homework before I go out and gather with friends.”

Currently, McPhaul is consumed with softball. The team has gotten off to a slow start. After a loss March 20 to Virginia Union University, the Lady Falcons’ record dropped to 3-17. McPhaul provided a spark for that game, leading off with an inside-the-park homerun. But it wasn’t enough as Virginia Union won 13-2.

McPhaul leads the team with 2 homeruns, is third in batting with a .372 average and is tied for the lead in RBIs with 9. But the team as a whole has struggled.

The Lady Falcons are off until April 9 when they visit Johnson C. Smith University for a Southern Division doubleheader in Charlotte, N.C.

McPhaul admits playing three sports can be a challenge. “Basketball season takes the biggest toll on me,” she said. “It is a lot of commitment and like a job. We have two practices a day.”

But it helps that she ends the year with softball, which has a special place in her heart.“Softball is the sport I have been playing the longest and the sport I was originally recruited for,” she said. “Softball keeps me calm. Being on the field relieves any stress I may have from school.”

McPhaul does not see her three-sport commitment stretching beyond college. “I do not plan to go professional in any sports,” she said. But, she added, “If the opportunity presents itself I would take it.”

For now, she is having fun. “I get the opportunity to play three sports and I am appreciative in saying that because most students don’t get to play one,” McPhaul said.

 — Charles Gilchrist